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Driver dies in M-way plunge

A TANKER driver died last night after his lorry plunged from a motorway bridge and exploded.

A TANKER driver died last night after his lorry plunged from a motorway bridge and exploded.

The remains of the tanker that fell from the M56 (240) (copy)

The petrol tanker careered off the M56 and fell about 100ft before toppling down an embankment and bursting into flames.

Ten emergency vehicles were scrambled to the scene at junction 12 at the Weaver viaduct, Runcorn at 8pm last night,

Traffic was blocked off in both directions causing major tailbacks.

A spokeswoman for Cheshire Police said the lorry may have been avoiding a broken down car on the hard shoulder.

She said: "We received a call just before 8pm that a heavy goods vehicle had plunged off the M56 on the Weaver viaduct.

"We believe it clipped a car which was broken down on the hard shoulder before it careered off the bridge. The driver of the car was not in the vehicle at the time and was unhurt."

Two other peoplereceived minor injuries but did not require hospital treatment.

Terry Kelly, control manager of Mersey Regional Ambulance Service, said: "We had three ambulances, a fast response vehicle and an officer at the scene.

The bridge on the M56 where the tanker fell from (158) (copy)

"The tanker driver was dead when we arrived. There were also two minor casualties who we believe may have been injured in their vehicles as the lorry left the motorway.

"They refused hospital treatment."

Cheshire fire service said five appliances were called.

Driver Andrew Campbell, who was heading back into Liverpool, said flames shot into the sky level with the bridge.

He said: "People were getting out of their cars to see what was happening.

"All I could see was a ball of fire in the undergrowth underneath the bridge at the side of the River Weaver.

"The flames were about five metres high at first but after about an hour they shot up so they were level with the bridge.

"Thick black smoke was billowing out and could be seen for miles around.

"It looked as though some kind of oil tanker had lost control and gone through the barriers on the bridge."


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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